Taipei Mayor Ko meets Utrecht Mayor van Zanen Sunday. (By Central News Agency)
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) arrived in the Netherlands on Jan. 27 and led a team around one of the nation’s largest cities, Utrecht, on Jan. 28.
Highlights from the trip so far included meeting with the Mayor of Utrecht and receiving a VIP invitation to attend a soccer game.
Mayor Ko first attended a presentation Sunday morning at the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office on city planning in Amsterdam, according to CNA.
In the afternoon Mayor Ko met with the Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, over lunch.
The local government then arranged a special viewing box for Mayor Ko and his team to watch a soccer match. Mayor van Zanen’s team went out of their way to learn that Mayor Ko’s favorite number is “7” and gifted him a special-made soccer jersey with the number “7” and “KO” printed on the back, according to CNA.
Originally Mayor van Zanen thought to put an “8” on the jersey, knowing how auspicious the number “8” is in Chinese culture, though further research unearthed that Mayor Ko prefers “7.”
Mayor van Zanen said that he has visited Taiwan several times and each time received a very warm welcome, reported CNA. He wished to return the kindness to Mayor Ko.
Mayor van Zanen has advised on the construction and management of local waterways, railways, highways, and economic hubs in the Netherlands. Mayor van Zanen also presides over the area with the lowest carbon emissions per capita in all of the Netherlands through the promotion of bicycle lanes, unmanned subway system, smart technology, and quick-charging electric car systems, according to Liberty Times.
Mayor Ko's trip will span the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Turkey.
CNA reports that the purpose of the trip is to to learn more about democracy by studying different examples of the host nations. Ko said that although Taiwan has always looked up to the United States and learned from its democratic society, Europe's influence on democracy is no less important and Taiwan should spend more time with its European friends to study their example, reported CNA.
Mayor Ko is expected to return to Taipei on Feb. 6.